MLA, 8th edition – In text citations

There are several ways of citing your sources. The most common are MLA, APA and Chicago. The style depends on various factors such as the subject area of your course or your teacher’s preference. Be sure to check your assignment for the correct style before you start your list of references.

Posted with permission of the McMaster University Libraries

There are 9 core elements that are to be included in a citation. When citing a source look for these elements and list them in the order given. Use the punctuation as shown unless it’s the last element, which should end with a period.

If an element is missing from your source simply leave it out of your citation.

Your full citations are listed at the end of your paper. The citations are in alphabetical order and the whole page is double-spaced. If your citation is longer than one line, indent the following lines by 1.25 cm (hanging indentation).

Downloading and using a copy of the MLA template will help you get all information needed.

One author

Indicate the author’s last name and page number. The name may be mentioned in the text or within the parentheses. The closing punctuation of the sentence comes after the parentheses. Examples.

Two authors

List the last names of both authors separated by “and”, followed by the page number. The closing punctuation of the sentence comes after the parentheses. Example.

Three or more authors

Begin with the last name of the first author followed by “et al.” (meaning “and others”). The closing punctuation of the sentence comes after the parentheses. Example.

Works by individuals who are not the author
Follow the name with a label that describes the role of the person. Examples.

Corporation or organization as author

The name of the corporation or organization is treated in the same manner as an author. If you place the name in parentheses, abbreviate the common words. Example.

If the entry in the works cited page starts with the names of administrative units separated by commas include all the names in the parenthetical reference. Examples

Two or more works by the same author

Along with the author and page number you must include the title of the work. If the title is long give a shortened version. The title will be in the same format (italics or in quotation marks) as it is in your list of works cited. Example

If you mention the author in your text include the title and page number in the parentheses at the end of the citation. Example

No author

This is very common with websites. Use the full title if you are inserting it in your text. The title is shortened when it is included in the parenthetical reference, coming before the page number. Be sure to format the titles in the same way as in your works cited list. If the title is in italics you must use the italics in your in-text citation. If the title is in quotations then you must include the quotation marks. Examples

Sacred Text

Include the edition that you are using (italicized), then the book, chapter and verse (or equivalent) separated by periods. The names of the books of the Bible can be abbreviated (ex: Gen. for Genesis). Example

If you make further references to the same edition of the bible include only the book, chapter and verse in the parentheses.

Page numbers unknown

If there are no page numbers, no number can be put within the parentheses. This is very common with web documents. The parenthetical reference will contain just the author’s name (or title if there is no author). Examples

If a document has numbered sections or paragraphs, include them in the parentheses. Note that the author’s name is followed by a comma. Examples

Indented quotations (block quotations)

If you are using a longer quotation it must be indented 2.5 cm from the main margin and double-spaced. At the end of the quote type a space and then insert the parenthetical reference. Note that the parentheses come after the concluding punctuation.


The researchers found that:

As long as programs target the known risk factors and
adhere to the principles of effective intervention, youths
should be affected in positive ways. Importantly, addressing
even a few risk factors can have modest effects for youths
who experience multiple risk factors in multiple domains.
(Esbensen et al. 190)

Indirect sources (source quoted in another source)

If you are using a quote that is found in a source written by someone else, begin the parenthetical reference with “qtd. in” (meaning quoted in).

Your list of works cited would include an entry for the source you consulted: in this case the book by Knudston and Suzuki. Example.

The examples found in the MLA section are based on the manual MLA Handbook. 8th ed.
Tip: For more examples visit the OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue University or ask for help at the library reference desk.